Category Archives: Music – Country

1970: All things must pass

I’ve just finished reading David Browne’s ‘Fire and Rain’, a lengthy volume which attempts to explain many aspects of why the 1960’s Hippie Dream turned sour and does so by concentrating on one year – 1970 – and on 4 groups or artists for whom 1970 was a big year; Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Beatles and James Taylor.

All 4 released albums in 1970 – Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge over troubled water‘,  CSNY’s ‘Déjà Vu ‘,  James Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James’ and The Beatles’ ‘Let it be’.  Each of those albums were important inasmuch as they signified the end of the road for both The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel,  whilst Déjà Vu demonstrated how the addition of Neil Young to the mix completely destroyed the huge promise of the first ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ album from the previous year.  With hindsight,  only James Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James’ can be seen in a positive light; after all, it was the template for Taylor’s hugely successful career which still endures to this day.

CrosbyStillsNashYoung 1970CSNY in 1970 – falling apart before they ever really got together

All of these albums – particularly ‘Bridge over troubled water’  – were highly successful in terms of sales but all except for the Taylor album are freighted with negative connotations.

Simon & Garfunkel’s final album was patchy.  The title track was a monster hit everywhere and became an instant ‘standard’ and there were other fine moments like the quirky ‘So long Frank Lloyd Wright’, but there were some patchy moments as well.  Overall,  the album lacked the homogeneity of 1968’s  ‘Bookends’ and, as Browne points out, many of the tracks featured either Garfunkel’s voice or Simon’s – there weren’t many moments where we were treated to the sweet joint harmonies of yesteryear.

‘Let  it be‘ was a ragbag mess of a record after the smooth fluidity of its predecessor, ‘Abbey Road’.  Few of the songs were of a quality that matched The Beatles’ achievements  at their ‘Revolver’/’Sgt Pepper‘ peak.  ‘Let it be’ revealed a band falling apart.  The only surprise is that it was released at all; few other bands would have got away with it.

Déjà Vuand the US concert tour that followed it turned Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young into the world’s biggest band by the summer of 1970.  Yet the record – like the band –  is deeply flawed, lacking the unity of mood, purpose and underlying philosophy which made the 1969 ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash‘ album one of the finest début albums of all time.  By contrast, ‘Déjà Vu’ sounds like the work of 4 solo artists, which as Browne’s book reveals was pretty much the case.  Only Crosby’s hippie potboiler ‘Almost cut my hair’ avoids this label as he insisted the whole band record it live in the studio.  Looking back, it’s clear that Young only joined the CSN collective in order to further his own solo career.  It’s of some significance that Young’s ‘After the Goldrush’, another 1970 release, leaves ‘Déjà Vu’ standing – and I say this as someone for whom Neil Young’s lengthy solo career is largely a monument to self-indulgence and tedium.  All in all, it has to be said that whilst  ‘Déjà Vu’ has its momentsStills’ ‘Carry On’ and Crosby’s title track maintain the quality of the first album –  the rest is pretty forgettable.

So, for Browne’s chosen artistes, we have two bands who disintegrated in 1970 plus one who were hardly together at all and all of this came in the wake of the Woodstock dream being soured by the events at the Altamont Speedway at the end of 1969.  Even  for Taylor, who was well on his way to becoming a major artist by the end of 1970,  success was curdled by lengthy episodes of drug abuse and flirtations with the mental instability that informed some of his lyrics.   All in all, it’s not a pretty picture, but the thing is, it’s also a distorted one, because in many other ways, 1970 was a time of harvest for many of the bands and performers who had been developing their music over the previous few years.

Even a perfunctory glance at a list of the albums that were released in 1970 show an extraordinary diversity and range of talent.  This was the year of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’ , of  Santana’s ‘Abraxas’, of Pink Floyd’s  ‘Atom Heart Mother’, Traffic’s ‘John Barleycorn must die’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Ladies of the Canyon’.  How different, how much more positive could Browne’s story have been if he’d chosen these albums and artists instead of the ones already mentioned?

TrafficTraffic in 1970;  (L-R) Wood, Winwood & Capaldi

Well, of course, Browne chose the artists and albums he did because they illustrated the specific point he was trying to make about the death of 1960’s idealism and the encroachment of greed, ego and narcotics upon the hippie heartlands of yesteryear.  To be honest, his points are well-made, but I have to ask myself which of the artists he covered were on my personal ‘playlist’ in 1970.  Maybe Déjà Vu‘ – though I usually reverted to the first ‘CSN’
album by preference – and from time to time later on in the year, Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James’ once it strayed across my radar.  The other two were not albums I listened to at all – I always felt that ‘Let it be‘ was rubbish aside from a couple of the tracks and I found ‘Bridge over troubled water‘ too syrupy and bland.  Some people found the title track magnificent; I just found it overblown.

I’ve already mentioned a few of the top albums released in 1970 – here’s a more comprehensive list:

Derek & the Dominos – ‘Layla and other assorted love songs’

The Mothers of Invention – ‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’ / ‘Chunga’s Revenge’

Free – ‘Fire & Water’/’Highway’

George Harrison – ‘All things must pass’

Grateful Dead – ‘Workingman’s Dead’ / ‘American Beauty’

Jimmy Webb – ‘Words & Music’

Joni Mitchell – ‘Ladies of the Canyon’

IABD - Marrying Maiden

King Crimson – ‘In  the wake of Poseidon’ / ‘Lizard’

Led Zeppelin – ‘III’

Neil Young – ‘After the Goldrush’

Pink Floyd – ‘Atom Heart Mother’

Rod Stewart – ‘Gasoline Alley’

Ry Cooder – ‘Ry Cooder’

Santana – ‘Abraxas’

Soft Machine – ‘Third’

Supertramp – First Album (‘Supertramp’)

Allman Brothers Band – ‘Idlewild South’

The Band – ‘Stage Fright’

The Byrds – ‘Untitled’

The Doors – ‘Morrison Hotel’

The Rolling Stones – ‘Get yer ya-ya’s out’

Todd Rundgren – ‘Runt’

Mountain climbing

Traffic – ‘John Barleycorn must die’

Yes – ‘Time and a Word’

Family – A Song for Me’

Mountain – Climbing!

Egg – ‘Egg’

Miles Davis – ‘Bitches’ Brew’

The Flying Burrito Brothers – ‘Burrito Deluxe’

Country Joe and the Fish – ‘C.J. Fish.’

Blodwyn Pig – ‘Getting to this’

IF

The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’

Ginger Baker’s Air Force – First Album

Dave Mason – ‘Alone Together’

Fotheringay – First Album (‘Fotheringay’)

Quicksilver Messenger Service – ‘Just for Love’ / ‘What about me?’

Nick Drake – ‘Bryter Later’

Tim Buckley – ‘Starsailor’

Quintessence 1970

Spirit – ‘The 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus’

Roy Harper – ‘Flat Baroque & Berserk’

If – First Album & ‘If 2’

It’s a Beautiful Day – ‘Marrying Maiden’

John McLaughlin – ‘My Goal’s Beyond’

Quintessence – ‘Quintessence ‘ (Second album)

John & Beverley Martyn – ‘The Road to Ruin’

OK,  so here are close to 50 LP’s which also saw the light of day in 1970 and might paint a rather less negative picture than Browne offers in his book.  People often talk of 1967 as being the magical year for music  but for me, 1970 is the year that really counts.  You can make your own mind up about that.

After this, of course, there was Bowie and The Eagles and  Little Feat and  Steely Dan – overall,  something new.  Whilst the 60’s was a fading dream , the 70’s offered something different.  1970 was a year that marked the dividing line between the two decades and gave us a whole new set of possibilities.

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Listening to The Grateful Dead (1969 vintage)

My mate Adrian recently confided in me that, back in the day, he never ‘got’ The Grateful Dead, by which I took him to mean that he never understood the quasi-mystical regard in which they were held by some people.  After all, the band’s music is largely blues- and folk-based, so there’s nothing not ‘to get’ there…..

However, to be truthful, I suppose I never ‘got’ the Dead either at that stage.  I knew nothing about their origins in folk & jug bands, then scratchy r’n’b bands in the Bay Area.  The Dead arrived on my turntable in the shape of 1969’s ‘Live/Dead’ album.  Four sides of vinyl and only 7 tunes, one of which was a 35-second fragment.  I was bowled over by the opening 23-minute  ‘Dark Star’, which despite its far out title, wasn’t that kind of extended spacey jam as perfected by Pink Floyd.  What the Dead did somehow remained grounded solidly in the blues and folk idioms from which they sprang and, at the fulcrum of it all was Jerry Garcia’s extraordinary lyrical guitar playing .  Any journeys these guys were taking were inside their own heads rather than to the heart of the sun.  Which brings us, inevitably, to drugs.  For me, ‘Live/Dead’ was, along with ‘Electric Ladyland’ and ‘Atom Heart Mother’ one of the quintessential acid albums. 

Of course, out of all this grew the aforementioned quasi-mystical reputation which baffled some, even more so once the Dead co-opted David Crosby & Graham Nash to help them sing better.  By 1970 they had turned themselves into a first-rate country-rock band, releasing, in that one year  one very good album (‘Workingman’s Dead’) and one absolute classic and probably their best studio album (‘American Beauty’).  I think a lot of people just couldn’t figure this out….who were these guys; were they space cadets or good ol’ boys?  Mystifyingly for some, I think the answer to that question would have to be ‘both’.

However, live, the Dead could and did still cut loose.  In 1972 they came to Europe for a major tour and it was clear to see that there had been a major change in their attitude to their setlist.  Whilst there was still room for extended numbers like ‘Dark Star’, the band were by now also incorporating a substantial number of shorter, more traditionally structured songs from both the 1970 studio albums and elsewhere.  These would include ‘Jack Straw’, ‘Sugar Magnolia’, ‘Big Railroad Blues’, ‘Playing in the band’ and others of that ilk.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to some 1969 Dead and specifically to the gigs from which the ‘Live/Dead’ tracks were plucked.  All these early 1969 gigs were recorded at the Avalon Ballroom or the Fillmore West in San Francisco and over 11 discs of music, the setlists barely vary at all.  The backbone of every gig would seem to be the same tracks that appear on ‘Live/Dead’ – ‘Dark Star’, ‘St Stephen’, ‘Death don’t have no mercy’, ‘The Eleven’, ‘Turn on your lovelight’.

Most of these songs clock in at well over 10 minutes and sometimes over 20.  The band seem intent on weaving their way in and out of the various themes in each tune and extracting the maximum possible improvisational power from each one.  It doesn’t always work; there are a couple of limp versions of ‘Lovelight’ here, so maybe Pigpen was having an off-night, but largely the band are on form and produce some rousing performances.

I’m not sure that there’s anything to ‘get‘ about the Dead…OK, if you walked into the middle of one of the extended ‘Space/Drums’ sequences they built into their 70’s gigs, it might momentarily have seemed a little challenging, but for all that players like Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia approached their playing in an idiosyncratic and highly personal manner, the band’s music was always rooted in folk music, country and blues.

Listening to Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham……

Penn and Oldham are a couple of that rare and select breed of musician who, at one time or another and in one situation or another had a ‘day job’ that involved writing hit songs in large numbers.  The best known of these ‘ensembles’ have been based in the USA and we immediately think of New York’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’ and the Brill Building where the likes of Carole King, Gerry Goffin and Neil Sedaka plied their trade in the 1950’s – because that’s very much what it was; a trade.  Just like the executives in the BBC’s excellent ‘Mad Men’ travel into the heart of Manhattan to produce inane but powerful jingles and slogans, so King, Goffin, et al would hammer away at their pianos, concocting the dreams of ‘Young America’….under the boardwalk, up on the roof, whether they’d lost that lovin’ feelin’ or just discovered the ‘Chapel of Love’….

The frontage of the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway

Tin Pan Alley had of course existed in some form or another on W.28th Street between Sixth and Broadway since the 19th century as home to the publishers of sheet music and because of its proximity to the vaudeville theatres of Broadway.   What many found fascinating was the  ‘industrial’ nature of the songwriting that went on here.  There was talk of ‘hit factories’ and owners would strive to pair or group combinations that could generate the particular chemistry needed to write a hit song.  In those days, things were seen in terms of the classic combinations of history such as George & Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart and so on. This was something that persisted into the classic 50’s combinations of Lieber & Stoller, Goffin & King et al.

It was also something that Motown founder Berry Gordy picked up on when he founded his own ‘Hit Factory’ out in Detroit in the late 1950’s.  In assembling talent to fuel his new roster of labels, Gordy was looking not just at the stars like The Supremes or The Temptations who would provide the window dressing for the enterprise but also the backroom technicians, musicians, producers and writing teams who would produce, record and package the material that Motown would sell so successfully throughout the 1960’s.  Motown had its crop of producer/songwriters like Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong , ‘Mickey’ Stevenson & Smokey Robinson and so on – their style and techniques were hugely influential….

Another day at the office for Holland, Dozier and Holland….

Down in Memphis, a similar phenomenon was occurring, albeit on a smaller scale, at Stax Records.  Stax could boast Booker T and the M.G.’s as a house band and could also draw on the songwriting talents of Isaac Hayes and David Porter.  There is strong evidence that Porter in particular cold-bloodedly dissected some of the classic Motown songs, applying what he’d learned to his own writing.

The success of Stax Records brought something of a renaissance in the music business in Memphis.  Dan  Penn had worked at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals but had failed to really make it as a performer.  Having written ‘I’m your puppet’, successfully recorded by James & Bobby Purify in 1966, Penn relocated to Memphis, intent on reinventing himself as a songwriter/producer.  He quickly hooked up with Chips Moman at American Studios. 

Their first collaboration was the extraordinary soul classic ‘The Dark End of the Street’, recorded initially by James Carr, but propelled to international success when it was covered by Percy Sledge (with Spooner Oldham on sepulchral Hammond Organ).  Rock artists like Ry Cooder and Richard & Linda Thompson have since covered the song to great effect.  Moman & Penn subsequently produced ‘Do right woman, do right man’ for Aretha Franklin’s 1967  Muscle Shoals sessions, whilst Penn was also collaborating with Spooner Oldham in writing and producing hits for a new pop/soul group from Memphis called The Box Tops.  Led by future Big Star guitarist Alex Chilton, the Box Tops would register massive international hits with songs like ‘The Letter’ and ‘Cry like  a baby’.  Like Penn & Oldham themselves, The Box Tops were exponents of what is often termed ‘blue-eyed soul’, which is a polite term for black music made by white people.  The degree to which this term is derogatory probably depends on the company you’re keeping, but some record companies – notably Island with Robert Palmer and Columbia with Boz Scaggs – have used it freely in promoting white artists since the 1960’s.

Aretha Franklin with Jerry Wexler at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, 1967

Dan Penn freely admits that whilst he grew up with an awareness of what white artists (most notably Elvis Presley) could do in harnessing the drive and sexual energy of black rhythm and blues and repackaging it for an affluent white audience, it was the original black artists like Ray Charles and James Brown that he always turned to for inspiration.

All of this might have gone on indefinitely, but history took a hand once Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.  Suddenly, with race riots and a city in flames, the flow of black performers that had been working with Penn & Oldham on a regular basis just dried up and disappeared.  Since then, both have had their ‘wilderness years’ , as Penn freely acknowledges :- “In the Seventies, there were a lot of parties, but not a lot of songs. Whole lot of first lines, and no verses. I lost my studio – stayed pretty intoxicated for eight years.”

In time-honoured fashion, Penn was ‘saved’ by that old-time Southern religion in the 1980’s and now he and Oldham tour as a duo when time permits, playing the old songs; whilst the James Taylors and Bob Dylans of this world became singer/songwriters, Penn & Oldham, coming the other way, can perhaps be described as songwriter/singers.

Dan Penn on guitar and Spooner Oldham at the piano

Anyway, new listeners need look no further than ‘Moments from this theatre’, a recording of a gig they did in Dublin in 1998 or thereabouts and available on Proper Records.  All those hit songs are there, delivered (mainly ) by Penn’s warm baritone – he sounds very akin to another famous Memphis singer; Russell Smith from The Amazing Rhythm Aces.  The backing is Penn’s uncluttered acoustic guitar and Oldham’s warm electric piano.  It’s a record for a certain mood; maybe one of those delicate Sunday mornings…but for a couple of guys from the factory floor, it’s pretty impressive stuff…..

Listening to…..Viktor Krauss

I’d been aware of Viktor Krauss for a while now as he tends to crop up on albums by a couple of other favourites of mine – Lyle Lovett and Bill Frisell – and seems to be their bass player of choice  on many of their projects.  Krauss is not that common a name in the country/jazz/blues/Americana suburbs of music, so, yes of course, Viktor is the elder brother of the rather better-known Alison Krauss.

Viktor Krauss’ reputation as an ‘alt..country’ bassist is built on his work with the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Douglas and Pete Rowan  with whose ‘Free Mexican Airforce’ band  he really first made an impact in the early 90’s.  Before that, Krauss’ background had been in quite a different field; he was part of a band called ‘Difficult Listening’ (brilliant name!) who were inspired by Frank Zappa and others operating in the hinterland of modern jazz.

Those who had him pegged as a country bass fiddle player would in all probability have been somewhat shocked to hear his debut solo album , ‘Far from enough’ released in 2004.  This is a long way from Nashville, though the presence of his sister’s viola and vocals and dobro player Jerry Douglas maintain a strong country twang to proceedings.  Bill Frisell plays throughout this album and he and drummer Steve Jordan are constantly adding jazz inflections that position Krauss in a rich but sparsely-occupied neck of the woods between jazz and country.  Significantly, in the light of subsequent developments, one of the album’s stand-out tracks and (as I recall) the only one with sung (rather than wordless) vocals, is a terrific version of Robert Plant’s ‘Big Log’ with Alison singing in a way that may well have tickled Planty’s ears and given him pause for thought.

‘Far from enough’ (Nonesuch 2004)

It was 2007 before Viktor Kraus embarked on his second album, unimaginatively titled ‘II‘  On this record, Krauss adopts a similar approach to his first album, but uses different vocalists alongside a core band of stellar guitarist Dean Parks and drummer Matt Chamberlain.  Krauss himself is more active instrumentally this time around and plays keyboards and guitar as well as his customary basses.  Wordless vocals are again well to the fore, this time thanks to Indian singer Shweta Jhaveri, but there are more vocal tracks this time.  Lyle Lovett delivers a typically laconic version of  ‘I could have been your best friend’  whilst Shawn Colvin sings beautifully on what could well be the album’s stand-out track, a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ which brings the best out of everyone.  The instrumental tracks, especially ‘Dudeman‘ (the only track to feature Bill Frisell) and the opening ‘Hop’ are much more fully realised than their predecesors on ‘Far from enough’. Strauss himself sounds far more confident in what he is trying to achieve and doesn’t seem quite so much in the shadow of Frisell’s patented midwest twang.  Both albums are very rewarding, but ‘II’ is a more accomplished and rewarding listen.  After so long in the background, Viktor Krauss has taken an impressive step into the limelight with his second album.  It would be nice to see and hear this richly rewarding music played live.

 ‘II’ (Back Porch 2007)

Listening to….Bobbie Gentry

Sometimes you hear a record that creates an atmosphere so pungent and tangible that you almost feel as though you’ve been transplanted into another world.  Such a record for me was Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ which came my way when I was an impressionable teenager, crawling out of the radio speaker like a weird reptile from some steaming southern swamp and filling my head with tales of murky goings on ‘down south’.

Let’s be clear about this, I didn’t want to like it…..this was probably 67/68, so I was feeding my head with a pretty relentless diet of Pink Floyd, Small Faces, Traffic, Quicksilver, Hendrix, Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and so on….after all, Gentry’s record had one of  the hallmarks of traditional pop culture…a string orchestra.  Even so, there was that nagging acoustic guitar and those growling cellos and a tune I couldn’t get out of my head.

So, I bought the 45….and would play it now and again, but then I sold it or gave it away and until recently, I hadn’t heard that record for many long years.  Of course, I knew even back then that this was a tale of the American South, but in those days my understanding of the South was governed by a few Westerns I’d seen, like John Ford’s ‘The Horse Soldiers’ which laid out the issues behind the American Civil War in the most simplistic manner; essentially as follows: The North – reluctant to go to war but with right on their side and The South: Gallant but misguided.  Fortunately, I’ve read and seen a lot  and heard a lot more since then and all kinds of people from William Faulkner to Tennessee Williams and Randy Newman to Patsy Cline have broadened my understanding of the South, though I still haven’t made it down there yet.

Southern music started to become a big thing in my life when I discovered Stax Records and then the Allman Brothers, arguably two sides of the same coin.  I also remember my first encounter with J J Cale, back around 1973.  I was in Copenhagen with my girlfriend and we’d gone to visit her cousin who lived out of town.  He made us comfy and then invited us to try some of the local herbal smoking mixture, which left us both somewhat the worse for wear.  Then he put on the first J J Cale album (‘Naturally’,1972) and I distinctly remember feeling  that J J’s breathy vocals were crawling all over my body like ants.  I’d never really heard anything quite like it, and though I thankfully never replicated the original listening experience ,  ‘Naturally’ and its successor albums became part of my life  and they  too, often evoked what I can only describe as that unique southern flavour – which has absolutely nothing to do with Colonel Sanders….

bg

Getting  back to Bobbie Gentry….somehow, when ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ had become one of the guilty pleasures of my record collection, I think I must have seen her on TV, maybe on ‘Top of the Pops’,  and I think that probably also contributed to my view of her as not being one of the new, hip female cognoscenti like  Grace Slick or Janis Joplin.  This was a decision probably made on appearance more than anything else; Gentry appeared to have one of those weird Priscilla Presley type hairdos that I imagined were so clogged with hairspray that the hair never seemed to move.  Also, she seemed to have been nabbed by a wardrobe department for whom crimplene (especially  for ‘trouser suits’) was the unwritten 11th Commandment.  In short, an attractive woman had been turned into a bit of a frump, but a frump who would fit right into the Nashville/Hollywood continuum of Southern women singers.

Anyway, I won’t waste time weeping for my misjudgement of Bobbie Gentry; the following year I discovered Joni Mitchell, so I suspect Bobbie may not have made the cut anyway.

Which brings us forward to recent times, when a friend provided me with more Bobbie Gentry music than I thought existed – about 5 albums plus some duets with Glen Campbell.  I also discovered that Ms Gentry gave up the music business many years ago and lives privately in Los Angeles.  But, the thing is, across the years, ‘Ode to Billie  Joe’ still has that power and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it again.  I can now also decode all the ‘southernisms’ in the lyric and appreciate the conversational manner in which the murky tale gets told.

Not only that, but I’ve got to hear it in a proper context as just one of Gentry’s songs.   Elsewhere on these discs, there are a few obvious attempts to ‘clone’ ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ , but she wouldn’t be the first artist to do that – anyone heard Marvin Gaye’s ‘That’s the way love is’, the follow-up to ‘I heard it through the grapevine’?

The cd’s I have run from 1967 through to about 1971 and are a mixture of good, indifferent and misguided – some fairly uninspired cover versions – but there’s nothing to really make you wince.  Then again, I haven’t yet come across anything that can really stand alongside ‘Billie Joe’ either.  On one level, it’s tempting to link Gentry to people like Tony Joe White and all the ‘Country got Soul’ crew, but I’m not sure that really holds water – I think Nashville had their fangs into Bobbie Gentry from a very early stage.  It seems that she never really had her Aretha Franklin/Muscle Shoals moment where she cut loose of all the record company image-making bullshit and just let her talent fly free, which is a pity, really, because it might have been interesting to see what she could do in a less ‘manufactured’ context.

Of course, in 2009, the kind of ‘po’ white folks’ schtick that characterises a lot of Gentry’s own songs doesn’t really cut much ice – but  then again, these recordings are over 40 years old.  Maybe we should treat it like Faulkner –  as a snapshot of a world that may once have existed – and move on.  Certainly, a copy of ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ is likely to find its way on to my iPod and I’ll be happy to hear it now and again.

(Bobbie Gentry – ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ / ‘Fancy’/’Local Gentry’/’Patchwork’/The Delta Sweete’/’Touch ’em with love’)